Fresh Perspective | What I’m thankful for

Fresh Perspective is a biweekly blog about typical college experiences made strange by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Julia Smeltzer, Senior Staff Writer

As we pass Halloween, we welcome the month of November, which means it is the start of the holiday season. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or no holidays at all, it is the season of feeling grateful and giving thanks.

We enter a season where we reflect on what we are thankful for and to spend time with those we love most. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I figured it was a good time to mention the things I am most grateful for this year, and how you can reflect on what you are grateful for as well.

To start off, I am thankful for my family. Coming to college, I have realized how much I treasure my time with my family. Even though my brothers and I spend most of our time teasing each other and yelling at one another for spending too long in our bathroom, I wouldn’t change a thing. As my siblings and I have grown up, I’ve started to appreciate the time we get to spend together and have seen how our relationship has evolved. Even though they annoy me more than anyone in this world, they are also the ones who make me laugh the hardest.

As for my parents, I am grateful for our bond and their strength. Growing up, they faced financial challenges that put our family in some tough situations, but they never let that affect how my siblings and I lived our everyday lives. It wasn’t until recently that I really grasped how hard that must have been for them and how much they have sacrificed for us.

In the past two years, our family has experienced a lot of loss, and I am grateful for my parents’ strength and perseverance. Those losses have made our family stronger as now I feel closer to my parents and cherish the time I spend with them. But as the holiday season approaches, it can remind us of those we have lost. So that makes me cherish my family more than anything, and I am most grateful to have them in my life.

Another thing I am grateful for is this blog, Fresh Perspective. I remember sitting in my first-year dorm and applying to The Pitt News as an opinions writer, nervous about whether I would get the position or if I would be any good at it. Then, I got an email from Megan Williams, a Pitt News alum and former editor of the Digital Desk, asking if I would be open to writing a blog about college experiences and mental health for her desk. Just a couple of weeks later, I had my first byline and The Pitt News published my first official blog post for Fresh Perspective.

Over the last two and a half years, I have offered advice and shared my experiences in hopes that they would help people. Little did I know that it would help me so much more. This blog follows my experiences, the good and the bad, from my first year until now. It has given me a voice to be vulnerable and has become a platform for me to express and process my own feelings and experiences over the last couple of years.

When I first started Fresh Perspective, I didn’t expect anyone besides my family to read it. However, one night this semester I ran into a girl who said she loves reading my blogs and that she relates to them. Hearing that validation is why I continue to write. So for that, I am very grateful I didn’t get the position as an opinions writer two and a half years ago.

There are so many things that I am grateful for this year. Building memories with my friends, my journey of growing up and self-discovery, and everything life has to offer are also at the top of my list of things I am grateful for this year. Even though this semester I have experienced a lot of anxiety about growing up and what my future looks like, it is nice to sit down and remember all the things I am grateful for.

In your life, you are going to face challenges and obstacles and have times when you are riddled with anxiety and doubt. But in those moments, it is important to remind yourself of everything good you have to ground yourself.

Regardless of whether you celebrate any holidays coming up, remember to think about what you are grateful for. You can do this by writing it down, telling the people around you that you are thankful for them or just listing things you’re grateful for in your head every morning. Now is a perfect time to express gratitude, though it is something we should do every day.

Julia Smeltzer writes primarily about mental health and college experiences. You can reach her at [email protected].